Fans of the cartoon SpongeBob Squarepants will be saddened to learn that the creator of the series, Stephen Hillenburg, died Monday at the age of 57.

According to Yahoo, Hillenburg was diagnosed with ALS in March of last year and passed away as a result of it. The Network of his cartoon creation, Nickelodeon, has issued the following statement.

We are incredibly saddened by the news that Steve Hillenburg has passed away following a battle with ALS. He was a beloved friend and long-time creative partner to everyone at Nickelodeon, and our hearts go out to his entire family. Steve imbued ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ with a unique sense of humor and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere. His utterly original characters and the world of Bikini Bottom will long stand as a reminder of the value of optimism, friendship and the limitless power of imagination.” - Nickelodeon

SpongeBob Squarepants was and is one of my FAVORITE cartoons (yes I still watch cartoons sometimes). Our hearts go out to Hillenburg's family and the family at Nickelodeon. It's nice knowing that he will live on through the lovable cartoon series.